Feb 3, 2010

a few reasons facebook can rock... and stink

I've been a Facebook user for a while now, and over the years I've enjoyed the way my network of conversations has grown - be it people I invited who responded to those who were already on (or would have been eventually).  There have been a few things I've noted, though, on both the upside and downside of Facebook.  Maybe you can identify with these reason why Facebook rocks... and stinks.

Why Facebook can stink:
  • Missing updates: The larger your online network (or "friends," as Facebook calls them) grows, the less you keep track of everyone's updates.  Throw in the other stuff on Facebook, too - notes, contest entries, and so on - and it's easy to feel off with someone because you didn't know about a situation they've written a few updates about (and slipped under your radar).  Case in point, I had to apologize to two people last month who thought I was ignoring what they were going through.  There are ways to make sure you catch certain people more than other people, but even then it can still be difficult to catch it all.

  • The delete button: I recently had a real deep chat with someone on Facebook and the conversation happened to get passionate and emotional on their end... pure sass.  I responded back by pointing out something they were being intentionally blind to, and I believe with all sincerity that I handled it appropriately.  Specifically, I mean I spent a good chunk of time putting together a solid thought that I knew they needed to consider. The next day it was deleted... not just the comment, but the whole conversation... as if deleting it deleted the need to address it.  I wish I could say that's only happened once, but it hasn't.  People would rather pretend an awkward conversation never happened than actually have one to awkward completion.

  • Unfriending and rejecting friend request: Have you ever been "unfriended" by someone on Facebook?  You may not know it because Facebook won't send you a notice when someone decided they no longer want to be connected to your life or have you connected to theirs.  Keep in mind, there are legitimate reasons to do it, but often it's one person's way of keeping another out of the loop on their lives... possibly because they were offended in some way (see the previous point). 

Why Facebook can rock:

  • Creating a conversation for the next conversation: We all have people in our lives whom we know we'll see on certain days, but otherwise we wouldn't be connecting with them.  One of the reasons why my wife joined Facebook (after a long period of resisting) was she noted how on Sundays when our Church gathered that people seemed to be having conversations about other conversations they'd had all week... and she missed out on them.  Sort of like when you walk into a circle where someone just told a joke that made others laugh, and you have be the one who asks, "What's so funny?" I've really enjoyed how this online social network not only helps me stay in tune with people throughout the week, but how it also gives me things to talk with people when I see them in person.

  • Amusing Intimacy: I am not a big fan of all the stuff you can get sucked into via Facebook, but I have enjoyed a few of the games I play with people where we trade stuff back and forth. For instance, I probably wouldn't normally play "Mafia Wars" but I like making connections with my dad, friends, and other family who play the game.  By taking part in such amusement we share an unspoken intimacy that says, "I'm still really alive, you're still really alive, and we touched base today... even if it was to share an imaginary dangerous weapon that will be used to defend your imaginary mafia family against imaginary attacks."

  • Greater gauges: You know how sometimes people may act out in a way that is out of character with who you know them to be?  Facebook provides the chance to know the story behind that story... maybe there was a loss or a gain in their lives earlier that week that you can use as a context for figuring out why they are either atypically up or down.  Likewise, the greater my network has grown, the greater number of people I have telling me, "Hey, we might want to touch base with _____ because _____ happened this week."  So whether it's hanging out with someone online about their favorite TV show or learning why someone needs to blow off steam, Facebook has helped me stay better in tune with people.
How about you?  

Have you experienced any of these reasons?  Maybe others?

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